Did you enjoy a great loaf of Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day?
What did they use before baking soda was invented?
Native Americans knew the secret of soda ash, used in their baking, and potash and pearlash was used in the 17th and 18th centuries by Colonists adding a distinctive flavor to baked goods.
Potash starts with lye, produced by passing water through hardwood ashes. Evaporating the lye water leaves behind the solid potash. Pearlash is refined potash derived by baking it in a kiln to remove impurities.
In 1796, Potash shows up as an ingredient in recipes in the first American cookbook American Cookery.
1843: Alfred Bird, a British chemist, makes the first version of baking powder to help out his wife, who was allergic to yeast.
Working with this theory, in 1846 brothers-in-law Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight began preparing bicarbonate of soda for commercial distribution. They packaged their product by hand in paper bags in Mr. Dwight's kitchen. This product was easier to use as it did not require two ingredients mixed at time of cooking as did baking powder.
Over the years, the company went through many changes in company mergers and in advertising.
They started out with the Cow brand, before settling on the now iconic Arm & Hammer symbol. In 1860's they mailed out recipes and suggestion for use. 1880's they offered "beautiful birds of America" trading cards. And in 1907, way ahead of the curve, they began using recycle material for packaging.
In 1922 they published "A Friend in Need" health education booklet, touting it as a "proven medicinal agent." good for bathing and cleaning teeth.